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7 of the best LGBTQ moments from TV last year.

How TV took the conversation way beyond marriage.

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Modern Love

Do you remember when Edith Bunker got a job at Louise Jefferson's store?

It caused quite a stir in the fictional Bunker household.

You see, the cantankerous "All in the Family" main character, Archie, didn't want his wife to take the job offer. Not only because it came from his archnemesis George Jefferson but because he was afraid of what people would think of his white wife working in a black man's store.


Those were the days. Image via John S./YouTube.

"What are the neighbors going to say?" Archie asked. "I mean the white neighbors. ... You working at a colored store? What are they going to say?"

"Well," Edith replied with her trademark combination of wisdom and naïveté, "I guess they'll just say, 'Hi, Edith!'"

TV shows often provide a cross-section of American culture. They have a unique, often subtle way of tapping into the important discussions and issues of the day, from race relations to gender roles to LGBTQ rights.

In the first year since the landmark Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality in June 2015, some of America's most popular TV shows have brought LGBTQ characters, issues, and discussions into our homes.

They've moved the conversation forward and helped ensure that LGBTQ rights remain something we all think about, talk about, and care about.

Here are seven of the biggest and best moments for LGBTQ characters from TV in the 2015-2016 season:

1. "How to Get Away With Murder" revealed its main character to be bisexual.

When the hit ABC drama premiered for its second season back in September 2015, fans got a glimpse into the mysterious past of protagonist Annalise Keating (Viola Davis) — which included the revelation that she's bisexual.

Davis was the first African-American woman to win the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images.

While the show is known for its twists and surprises, the moment wasn't played for shock. It simply added a new layer to the character. Shonda Rhimes, who created the show, even said that she's not trying to shock people. Just the opposite, in fact.

"I’m normalizing TV," said Rhimes at an awards gala. "I am making TV look like the world looks. Women, people of color, LGBTQ people, equal way more than 50 percent of the population. Which means it ain’t out of the ordinary."

2. On "Empire," Jamal came out of the closet in a big, bold way.

The prodigal-son character Jamal Lyon (Jussie Smollett) has had it pretty rough. When he was a child, his father literally threw him in the garbage for acting effeminate. While his mother was incarcerated, he was abused and told by his disapproving dad to "act like a man."

Which is why it was a pretty huge deal when Jamal came out of the closet, not hiding from his father, but right in front of him. On a stage. In a white suit. In song. At a massive party. Yeah.

Image via Empire/YouTube.

Even though Jamal knew his father would disapprove, he chose to publicly and epically embrace who he is.

Since queer men of color are hugely underrepresented on TV and in media, Jamal's primetime showstopper was an even bigger deal. Sure, not everyone can come out via a dazzling musical number, but it still shows that you should embrace who you are no matter what anyone says.

And why not go big while you do it?

3. "The Fosters" aired the youngest same-sex kiss in TV history.

"The Fosters," which is one of the most progressive and forward-thinking TV shows on air right now, took LGBTQ visibility to new heights when 13-year-old will-they-won't-they couple Connor (Gavin MacIntosh) and Jude (Hayden Byerly) shared their first on-screen kiss.

What's the big deal? Well just that it was the youngest same-sex kiss in TV history.

Image via The Nomad/YouTube.

Crushes and first kisses are a pretty huge part of everyone's young life, and "The Fosters" did an amazing thing by helping to normalize young same-sex romance.

The kiss was historic, but it was also just as heartwarming and sweet as any other first love story. Which is probably why the #Jonner fanbase was freaking the f**k out. (In a good way).

4. Over on Cartoon Network, "Steven Universe" featured a lesbian couple.

"Steven Universe" is a groundbreaking, envelope-pushing kids show about a young kid named Steven who protects the universe with gems.

In July 2015, it was revealed that Garnet, one of the show's side characters, is actually a fusion of two other characters — Ruby and Sapphire. After that reveal, series producer Ian Jones-Quarterly later confirmed that Ruby and Sapphire are a lesbian couple.

An adorable lesbian couple.


GIF from "Steven Universe."

"TV and movie representation matters," says Edward Schiappa, a communications professor at the University of Minnesota. According to The New York Times, Schiappa performed five studies that all showed that the presence of gay characters on TV decreases prejudice. "These attitude changes are not huge — they don’t change bigots into saints. But they can snowball." Schiappa said.

For kids watching cartoons, seeing LGBTQ characters can help dissolve some societal prejudices as early as possible.

5. "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" shined a big spotlight on bisexuality and the problem of bi-erasure.

While there have been increasing numbers of gay and lesbian characters, bisexuality is still underrepresented on TV and is often misrepresented to the point of being harmful. According to GLAAD, only 18 bisexual men appeared on television in 2015, and many of them fell into "dangerous stereotypes about bisexual people."

Some of those harmful stereotypes include the idea that bisexual people are somehow more sexually promiscuous than others or that they simply haven't made up their minds about their sexuality yet and are really just gay or lesbian.

"Crazy Ex-Girlfriend," a musical show about a New York lawyer who follows an old flame to California, decided to address all those stereotypes head-on when divorced-father-and-lawyer character Darryl Whitefeather (Pete Gardner) realized, later in life, that he was bi.

Image via The CW/YouTube.

He announced this to his colleagues in a musical number called "Getting Bi" which was simultaneously a jazzy smackdown of those who don't think that bisexuality is a real thing and a proud celebration of his sexual identity.

While bisexuality is still often misrepresented, it was awesome to see it addressed in such a big way.

6. Scott Turner Schofield became the first transgender man to star in a daytime soap opera.

It's hard to get more "Americana" than a daytime soap opera. While most shows come and go, soap operas like "The Bold and the Beautiful" remain, providing an ever-evolving canvas of characters and storylines that reflect the times.

When Scott Turner Schofield joined the cast of "The Bold and the Beautiful" in April 2015, he became the first openly transgender actor to ever play a major role on a soap.

Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for GLAAD.

His character, Nick, is a mentor and friend of another transgender character on the show played by actress Karla Mosley.

"I am grateful to be able to help uplift and honor ‪‎transgender‬ people in this moment. I had such help from my communities, becoming me," Schofield said in a Facebook post.

With millions of people tuning in to soap operas, Schofield's casting does a lot for trans visibility — something that the trans community continues to fight for.

7. "How to Get Away With Murder" featured an open and frank discussion about HIV and PrEP.

There's a reason "How to Get Away With Murder" is featured on this list twice. The show has done, and continues to do, a lot for LGBTQ visibility and representation.

One of the show's recent plot turns involved Oliver (Conrad Ricamora) revealing to his boyfriend Connor (Jack Falahee) that he is HIV positive. As that storyline played out, the two discussed options for continuing their relationship despite the diagnosis. Naturally, the conversation turned to the HIV prevention drug PrEP — which many couples use to stay safe.

Jack Falahee and Conrad Ricamora at the Point Honors Gala. Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Point Foundation.

HIV overwhelmingly affects members of the LGBTQ community, particularly gay and bisexual men who account for two-thirds of all new diagnoses.

Safety and HIV prevention is a real concern but one that is often shrouded in secrecy and stigma. For a primetime TV show to openly discuss it is a huge win for public health.

All of these moments have contributed to something greater than just entertainment.

They've helped the LGBTQ community be seen and heard in new ways. They've pushed our often stubborn and slow-moving country a little further toward equal rights and made the discussion of LGBTQ equality about more than just marriage.

There's still a lot of work to be done. The LGBTQ community is still subject to prejudice, hate, and violence. After the shooting in Orlando, just one year after the Supreme Court made marriage equality the law of the land, you probably don't need to be reminded of that.

But the more we embrace love — in our lives, in our hearts, and even on our TV sets, the better the world gets.

Nothing can stop the march forward.

Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

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Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

That first car is a rite of passage into adulthood. Specifically, the hard-earned lesson of expectations versus reality. Though some of us are blessed with Teslas at 17, most teenagers receive a car that’s been … let’s say previously loved. And that’s probably a good thing, considering nearly half of first-year drivers end up in wrecks. Might as well get the dings on the lemon, right?

Of course, wrecks aside, buying a used car might end up costing more in the long run after needing repairs, breaking down and just a general slew of unexpected surprises. But hey, at least we can all look back and laugh.

My first car, for example, was a hand-me-down Toyota of some sort from my mother. I don’t recall the specific model, but I definitely remember getting into a fender bender within the first week of having it. She had forgotten to get the brakes fixed … isn’t that a fun story?

Jimmy Fallon recently asked his “Tonight Show” audience on Twitter to share their own worst car experiences. Some of them make my brake fiasco look like cakewalk (or cakedrive, in this case). Either way, these responses might make us all feel a little less alone. Or at the very least, give us a chuckle.

Here are 22 responses with the most horsepower:

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10 things that made us smile this week

Upworthy's weekly roundup of joy.

From magical musical masterpieces to awesome animal awwww moments, here's this week's roundup of delight.

Last week's 10 things that made us smile post included a disproportionate number of dogs, and this week's post includes an unusual amount of music. Not sure how these things happen exactly, but I'm gonna go ahead and blame The Algorithm.

I love music. How could anyone not love music? Humans have made music since time immemorial, in every culture around the world. Few things unite people like music can, without having to speak one another's languages, without having to say a word. We hear a well-performed piece of music and we are transformed, like magic.

In this week's list, we have music being played and enjoyed by young and old as a reminder of the wonderful things humans can create. We need that reminder in the face of destruction that we are builders of beauty when we choose to be.

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via Pexels

If you know how to fix this tape, you grew up in the 1990s.

There are a lot of reasons to feel a twinge of nostalgia for the final days of the 20th century. Rampant inflation, a global pandemic and political unrest have created a sense of uneasiness about the future that has everyone feeling a bit down.

There’s also a feeling that the current state of pop culture is lacking as well. Nobody listens to new music anymore and unless you’re into superheroes, it seems like creativity is seriously missing from the silver screen.

But, you gotta admit, that TV is still pretty damn good.

A lot of folks feel Americans have become a lot harsher to one another due to political divides, which seem to be widening by the day due to the power of the internet and partisan media.

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